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The Shadows : The Books of Elsewhere: Volume 1 - Walmart.com - Walmart.com

The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows by Jacqueline West

Summary

The paintings on the walls of Olive’s new house can’t be taken off the walls. That’s not the only weird thing about this house, but Olive discovers that she can go into the paintings by wearing an old pair of spectacles. As she soon discovers, there are some forces at work in the house whose dangerous plans could affect her and her family if they aren’t stopped. She’ll have to take all the help she can get to figure out how to stop them.

Review

If you follow my Instagram, you know that this book absolutely terrified me as a kid. Reading it now – and all the way through – I can definitely appreciate this book a lot more. The author perfectly captured the feeling of knowing something is about to go wrong without really having any evidence to back you up. I probably spent 90% of this book in apprehension. Olive knows so little that every occurrence feels like it could go wrong. Once you’re far enough in, the pace doesn’t let up until the very end.

As a reader, I find books like this difficult at times. It’s easy for it to feel like the characters are uninformed because they simply aren’t paying attention. In this book, though, Olive is uninformed simply because gaining any kind of information is completely out of her hands. There are forces at work that prevent her from understanding the full picture. In the end, it’s that much more satisfying to learn what is really going on. The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows really is a fantastic read for this time of year.

Yours in love and literature, Page.

Content warning(s): death, violence

Thanks for reading! Check out my Instagram (@page.turner.omnibus) to see what I’ll be reviewing next!

Poe’s Creepiest Tales Retold
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His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler

His Hideous Heart: 13 of Edgar Allen Poe’s Most Unsettling Tales Reimagined edited by Dahlia Adler

Summary

For years, Edgar Allen Poe’s writing has captivated audiences of all kinds. In His Hideous Heart: 13 of Edgar Allen Poe’s Most Unsettling Tales Reimagined, authors come together to retell some of his works in a new light.

Review

As a fan of Edgar Allen Poe, I was ecstatic about finally getting around to reading this book. His stories and poems may be fantastic, but I was interested in seeing how others might interpret them and their outcomes. I’m glad to say that His Hideous Heart did not disappoint. While some retellings were more sad than spooky and some deviated from the original work. However, I felt that each author truly captured the spirit of Poe’s writing.

Not all retellings have to align perfectly with the source material. I especially enjoyed the way some of the authors took liberty with the narrative and created their own versions of the plot and outcome. It certainly made it more interesting to not know for sure whether or not the retelling would follow the original tale. Each was different from both the original story and the other retellings. While I often have mixed feelings about anthologies, this one really took my heart. It’s a perfect book to be reading in the month of October.

Yours in love and literature, Page.

Content warning(s): blood, death, murder, violence, homophobia, swearing, kidnapping, implied sexual content

Thanks for reading! Check out my Instagram (@page.turner.omnibus) to see what I’ll be reviewing next!

Book Cover Design
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Whoever said, “Never judge a book by it’s cover,” must never have had to sell one. As your number one marketing tool, your book cover design must be polished and professional. 

Here are 7 tips for self-pub authors to ensure your book cover stands up to the competition.

 

Hire a professional designer.

I really can’t stress this enough. AND, this isn’t just any graphic designer. It should be someone who creates book covers for living. This individual should be able to offer a full, custom cover, not simply a template. Find out if they have experience with book covers in your genre and ask to see those creations. Remember, you get what you pay for. Be sure to do your due dilegence.

Choose a distinct style.

Be unique without overwhelming the reader with a cluttered, disorganized cover. You want to set the right tone and make sure your message is clearly understandable. This can be a tricky balance. An experienced designer can help you get your message across and leave the reader wanting more.

Explore your local bookstores and online sales channels.

Browse the top selling titles in your genre for patterns. Look at colors, fonts, layouts, and images. Above all, you want to balance standing out with looking like you fit into your genre. For instance, cookbooks typically have food or cooking related images on their covers, not ghostly images. 

Pro-Tip: Consider the Cover Size – In today’s market your book will be sold through online sales channels. Your book will be displayed in thumbnail size and needs to look as impressive here as on the bookstore shelf.

Be clear and concise in your contract.

Don’t assume that the designer knows what’s in your head. Put everything in writing: timeline, payment, must haves, number of edits, etc. Make sure your designer checks off all the boxes. 

Choose fonts wisely.

Not all typefaces are created equal. Be sure that it’s pleasing to the eye and comes in a variety of weights and options. Keep it to two typefaces to avoid making your cover look messy. 

Pro Tip: Not all fonts are free. Check the license agreement and purchase the correct one. Often there are separate agreements for print versus digital. Ask the designer if the fonts require a license.

Brand covers in a series.

Keep a few elements the same, like fonts, typography, colors, and images. This strengthens your overall brand, giving your series a clean, recognizable look.

Understand what booksellers require on the cover.

First, you must have an ISBN and barcode on the back cover. Secondly, most booksellers will require a printed price above the bar code. In addition, there are few, if any, booksellers who will carry your book without a properly formatted spine. 

Attracting readers is the primary goal of your book cover. If you can create an attention grabbing cover that also contributes to building your overall brand, you are well on your way to success!

If you need assistance designing your book cover, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Author Services division at [email protected]. Our designers are ready to help you achieve your dream!

 

This Magic Isn’t For Him
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The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag

Summary

Aster is a boy – and in his family, that means he should be able to shapeshift. But lacking the knack for shifting means that he’s far more interested in the girls’ magic lessons. No one in his family can understand, constantly pushing him to be the shapeshifter they want him to be. When a boy disappears in the night, though, Aster’s magic may be the only thing that can save him.

Review

The Witch Boy is absolutely magical – and I say that with no pun intended. Okay, maybe a little pun intended. There’s something about this book that just draws you into its world. It’s not so different from ours, after all, all you’d need is a magical family living across town to be set. Everything from Aster’s family to his own self-doubt is completely immersive.

Crushing gender norms isn’t just for girls. I haven’t seen any books quite like The Witch Boy before where it’s a boy breaking gender roles and stereotypes. While Aster doesn’t act or dress in a particularly feminine way, there’s something to be said about breaking your family’s traditional gender roles. In the end, maybe we all just need to see past the traditional and the normal to accept everyone how they truly are.

Yours in love and literature, Page.

Content warning(s): manipulation, kidnapping, blood, violence

Thanks for reading! Check out my Instagram (@page.turner.omnibus) to see what I’ll be reviewing next!

5 Best Book Layout Tips
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Recently, I wrote about self-publishing considerations every self-pub author should know. Today, I weigh in on the interior pages and what every would be author should know. 

Book layout refers to the presentation of the inside of your book. Believe it or not, how you design the interior pages of your book matters. This includes understanding font, typesetting, trim size, image placement and margins. There should be a balance between the text and white space throughout the pages of your novel. Picture books have more room for playfulness, but the layout should balance text with the imagery.

Here are my 5 Best Book Layout Tips for Self-Publishers

 

Trim size

Welcome to the self-publisher’s first decision. Knowing the final size of your product can significantly affect your budget. Why? Because it’s the decision that most impacts the number of pages you end up printing. In turn, it will determine how you choose and layout the rest of this list. Be sure to pick your trim size based on the following criteria:

  • current trends in your genre,
  • sizes related to established publishers in your category, 
  • will it fit comfortably on the bookstore shelf? 
  • is the final trim going to significantly increase your page count (in turn increasing print price)?

Typography

Typography is the industry term for font. While there are hundreds of fonts to choose from, be sure to pick one that is readable and eye pleasing. For children’s books, avoid curly and overly fancy fonts. Emerging readers need to easily recognize sight words. They also learn by sounding out individual letters. A swirly font makes this more difficult. Eye fatigue sets in very quickly which can turn a new reader into a reluctant one. Sans-serif fonts are a top choice for this reason. 

Adult readers also prefer fonts less likely to cause eye fatigue; however, there is room for variation. Serif fonts are used widely in novels and sans-serif fonts are great in cookbooks. Different fonts can be used in the same book (For example, one for text and one for tables). Keep in mind consistency of use and a max of two, complimentary font families work best. 

Size matters. For novels, 10 – 12 points is ideal. For children’s books there is more wiggle room for an engaging and fun reaction, especially on book covers and title pages. However, use caution! Too much on the interior pages will turn your little reader off.

Typesetting

This book layout tip refers to placing text on the page. Done correctly, readers will never be the wiser. Typesetters ensure the placement of text considers all of the following:

  • Hyphenated words at the end of each sentence. Excessive amounts of these throw off the balance of the paragraph.
  • Poor word spacing. Too much or too little will create distracting white space on the page.
  • Windows and orphans. Windows occur when a lone word or short group of words end a paragraph, column, or page. Orphans appear at the top. Both leave an abundance of white space, breaking the flow of reading across two pages.
  • Kerning & Leading. Space between characters and lines of text are important. Words need room to flow.
  • Drop caps. The fancy, single large capital letter to start the paragraph of a new chapter, and how the text that follows flows around it.
  • Book blocks. Taking care that the text on facing pages ends on the same row.

Images and placement

These considerations enhance the overall product by balancing imagery and text. Avoid crowding images in order to blend the story and pictures seamlessly. Vary the image sizes and placement in the book. Too much repetition here, and your reader will get bored.

Picture books require you to mix text and illustration, allowing the pictures to help tell the story as much as the text. You can get creative with text by typing on a curve or use large and illustrated typography. But beware! A little goes a long way, don’t overdo it. 

Margins

Arguably, margins could be placed under typesetting; however, their importance deserves a special paragraph. They create the blank space surrounding the text, allowing the reader’s eyes to flow through it without eye strain. They also keep words within a ‘safe text area’, preventing text from coming too close to the trim. Thus creating interior visual appeal. 

Top margins provide room for running heads, while bottom margins are generally larger and may contain page numbers. The interior margins, or the gutter, combine for the largest margins. This accounts for the page binding, while still allowing for the text to appear centered when you open the book.

Once your interior pages are perfect, it’s time to decide on your cover art. This is the literal wrapping of your book into a unique, eye catching, and sellable package. Learn more in our next post.

Book layout can be frustrating and time consuming. Fortunately, it’s one of our favorite things to do and we excel at it! If you are looking for assistance in laying out your book or in any area of self-publishing, contact us at [email protected].

It’s Just A Game
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Amazon.com: Caraval eBook: Garber, Stephanie: Kindle Store

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Summary

Scarlett has been writing letters to Legend, the mastermind behind Caraval, for years. Now that she’s entered into an arranged marriage, she’s prepared to leave her dreams of seeing Caraval behind in order to save herself and her sister from their father. But in a strange twist of fate, Legend finally sends her an invitation this year. When her sister disappears immediately upon their arrival, though, it’s a race against time to find her before it’s too late.

Review

It’s so hard not to get swept up in the magic of this book. Stephanie Garber paints such a fascinating world for the entire story, which only makes Caraval that much more intriguing. The characters, story, and setting all work perfectly together. The flow of Caraval was really a high point for me – nothing felt choppy or out-of-place.

I really loved the air of mystery around the plot, too. Caraval is meant to be a game, but the level of immersion the characters experience goes far beyond that. It plays mind games with the reader almost as much as it does with the characters. Just about every chapter comes with a new twist that throws the story into a whole new direction. All in all, I found Caraval to be an incredibly immersive read, and I’m looking forward to getting to the next book in the series!

Yours in love and literature, Page.

Content warning(s): violence, abuse, death

Thanks for reading! Check out my Instagram (@page.turner.omnibus) to see what I’ll be reviewing next!

Self-Publishing Considerations
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While 2020 has been a hailstorm of shocking world events, one positive has been that people are writing stories. Lots of people with lots of stories. And with great stories come significant questions & decisions. We’ve received quite an uptick in queries and it’s time to get real about self-publishing. 

Nothing is more important than establishing your budget. Self-publishing is going to cost you money upfront, and it’s buyer beware. Deciding what you are willing to spend out of pocket will dictate many of your decisions. It’s buyer beware, so we urge you to seek out professionals with no less than expert experience in each of the following. 

Here are the top 5 self-publishing considerations

every newbie author needs to know about.

 

Editing 

For the love of all readers, never publish a book that has not been professionally edited. This is the single greatest investment you can make in your book, but it can also be one of the most expensive. 

Self-publishing services don’t check for quality of content, which results in a great many craptastic books in circulation. Readers will sniff out an unedited book in the first few pages and you will pay the price in poor reviews. If you need help finding the write, err right, editor, check out our previous post, What Type of Editing Does Your Book Need? Depending on the type of editing you need, you can expect to pay per word or by the hour. 

Book Layout 

Believe it or not, how you design the interior pages of your book matters. This includes understanding font, typesetting, trim size, image placement and margins. There should be a balance between the text and white space throughout the pages of your novel. Otherwise the book looks haphazard and screams unprofessional. Interior pages should be easy on the eyes, or your reader will walk away. Again, self-publishing banks on you paying fees for print. 

If you’re not familiar with how to achieve this, hiring a designer would be in your best interest. 

Book Cover Design

Whoever said, “Never judge a book by it’s cover,” must never have had to sell one. The book cover is your number one marketing tool. Top selling books wear covers specifically designed with imagery/text representative of your story, and also sellable to your audience. Even the spine should be of consideration, as it needs to stand out against other books sharing space on the bookstore shelf. 

Self-publishing services will likely require you to choose a book cover from a template. It’s less expensive and more efficient than waiting for a designer. It also means your cover looks like every other self-published book. And trust me, readers can tell the difference between a template book cover and one professionally rendered. 

Distribution & Sales

Selling books and delivering them requires many steps. In short you need to know:

  • How will you conduct and manage book sales?
  • What delivery method will you use?
  • What non-traditional sales channels are you considering?

Self-publishing services make their money upfront on print fees (and perhaps other fees for services mentioned here). Authors must figure out alone how to reach their readers. The costs involved here range from website design and hosting to packaging/shipping fees. 

Marketing Your Book

This requires more than sharing to your Instagram or Facebook feeds. Focus on building relationships versus the ‘buy my book, buy my book!’ approach. Readers want to get to know you! Fans want to see behind the scenes of your writing process, learn about your four legged best friend, and hear about how you teach artistic roller skating. Your brand is who you are! Everything you do, post, blog, or write speaks to your brand. Be consistent with what you put out there. Your fans will respond.

*Pro-Tip: Video is king right now. Apps like TikTok and Instagram make it easy to create fun, engaging videos. Facebook live is a great place to involve fans and allow them to ‘meet’ you. A YouTube channel or podcast is great for interviewing authors in your genre or hosting a Q & A with fans. Just be sure to stay on brand.

If you would like to inquire about our Author Services for self-publishing, please email us at [email protected]. Our staff is ready to assist you!

What Happens When You’re Never Told No?
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Lulu and the Brontosaurus (The Lulu Series): Viorst, Judith, Smith, Lane:  9781416999621: Amazon.com: Books

Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith

Summary

Lulu’s parents have always given her everything she wants. She rarely hears the word “no”, and when she does, she throws such a heel-kicking, lightbulb-shattering fit that they eventually give in. But when she asks for a brontosaurus for her birthday, that’s where her parents draw the line. And if they won’t get a brontosaurus for her, Lulu will just have to get one herself.

Review

Lulu and the Brontosaurus is one of my all-time favorite children’s books. The author interacts with the reader in such a funny and engaging way that it’s hard to put the book down. The story may be simple, but it’s clever and the delivery is fantastic. This is one of those stories that will delight younger readers with its humor.

I also love how the author lets the reader decide if there’s a moral to this story or not. The ending is really up to the reader. What happens to Lulu and the brontosaurus? There is one common thread, though, that sometimes you think you want something and it turns out not to be what you expect. And maybe it holds a warning for parents too – don’t give your kids everything they want, or they just might end up bringing a dinosaur home.

Yours in love and literature, Page.

Content warning(s): none

Thanks for reading! Check out my Instagram (@page.turner.omnibus) to see what I’ll be reviewing next!

A Princess Cursed for Life
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Amazon.com: Girl, Serpent, Thorn (9781250196149): Bashardoust, Melissa: Books

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Summary

When she was a baby, Soraya was cursed to be poisonous to the touch. She’s been locked away in her gardens and out of the public eye ever since. But while her brother is getting ready to be married, Soraya is fighting to find a way to break her curse and finally live among her people. What she discovers in the process, though, may have more dire consequences than she expects.

Review

This book is not going to go the way you expect it to. Trust me, even when you’re in the thick of it, the ending is an incredible surprise. That’s one of the best parts of this book – its lack of predictability. Part of that comes from the characters themselves. Soraya starts the story so unsure of herself and spends the rest of it trying to figure out what she really wants. Her insecurities and uncertainties made it nigh impossible for me to know what was coming next.

I talk about character development a lot in my reviews. It’s such an important part of storytelling, the effect your tale has on those it involves. Girl, Serpent, Thorn has some of the most drastic character development I’ve seen in YA fantasy. It may not be the most obvious or polar, but it’s definitely there. Every character undergoes some sort of change throughout the story. It only becomes clearer as the characters reveal more about themselves and those around them. I really loved this story and all of the messages it holds. If you like mythology-based fantasy and impressive character growth, then Girl, Serpent, Thorn is the book for you.

Yours in love and literature, Page.

Content warning(s): violence, death

Thanks for reading! Check out my Instagram (@page.turner.omnibus) to see what I’ll be reviewing next!

There’s No Puzzle Quite Like This
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Amazon.com: Book Scavenger (The Book Scavenger series (1)) (9781250079800):  Chambliss Bertman, Jennifer: Books

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Summary

Emily’s family has been moving all over the United States for as long as she could remember. Her only constant is Book Scavenger, a game where people all over use puzzles to leave books for others to find. When she finds something strange in the creator’s home of San Fransisco, it’s a race to find the end of this puzzle before she has to move again.

Review

Book Scavenger really has everything you would want from a modern mystery book. From the characters to a realistic sibling relationship to a girl who just wants to belong for once, I don’t think I could’ve asked for this to be much better written. This story is so compelling. The way it intersperses the main narration with short chapters from another viewpoint only adds to the suspense.

My first thought going into this was I really want to play Book Scavenger. I’m actually sad that it isn’t a real game! The author made up this incredible game and managed to keep it realistic. Too often I’ll see imaginary things added to realistic fiction in a very nonrealistic way. This book was fantastic, and I loved the level of realism. Book Scavenger is definitely worth checking out.

Yours in love and literature, Page.

Content warning(s): guns, shooting, violence

Thanks for reading! Check out my Instagram (@page.turner.omnibus) to see what I’ll be reviewing next!